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What Legal Rights Do Grandparents Have?

What Legal Rights Do Grandparents Have?

A grandparent has the potential to be a powerful force in a child’s life.  They can form life-altering bonds with their grandchildren and teach them important. Unfortunately, the relationship between grandparent and grandchild can be taken away or complicated if the child’s parents separate, end up the victims of a fatal accident, or refuse to let the grandparent have contact with their child. What steps can a grandparent take to see their grandchild again?

Visitation Rights

If you are a grandparent in Massachusetts, you have a legal right to request visitation with your grandchild. Perhaps the child’s parents are separated, divorced, or one parent has died, and the surviving parent will not let you see the child. You can seek a visitation order from the court, but it will likely be more complicated than if you were the biological parent seeking the same thing. This is because a court assumes the parents are qualified to decide what is best for their child. If you seek visitation from the court, it’s your responsibility to supply proof that contact with your grandchild is beneficial.

Examples of proof:

  • The existence of a relationship or frequent contact with your grandchild.
  • The child needs emotional support they are not getting from one of the parents.
  • The child is being physically or emotionally abused by one of the parents.

If you can prove that time spent with your grandchild has a positive effect on the child, the court may grant your request for visitation. An attorney with an understanding of grandparents’ rights can help you increase your chances of gaining visitation.

Custodial Rights

Much like a request for visitation, an attempt to seek custody of your grandchild may be difficult. This is especially true if you are seeking full custody of your grandchild and one or both of the child’s parents are attempting to accomplish the same. The court will always put the parent’s custodial rights before any other, as it is the opinion of most courts that a child will do best with their biological parents. However, when this isn’t the case, you must prove that the child would be better off under your care as a grandparent.

Your right to obtain custody will only be considered if:

  • The parents have been deemed unfit to retain custody of their child.
  • The child’s parents are deceased.
  • The parents have consented to grandparent custody.
  • The child has been living with a grandparent for at least a year.

In addition to the above, the court will take into consideration other family members who may be seeking full custody of the child, as well as your age, health, and financial ability to support the child. If another family member can offer a home with more stability, they will usually grant custody to that family member.

Contact Barach Law Firm LLC

Our firm is dedicated to securing the best outcome for you and your family. We can provide you with sound legal council to aid you during this trying time.

Call us today at (888) 209-7080 for a consultation or contact our firm online.

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